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Ohio State honors veterans with annual ‘rock ceremony’

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A wreath lies on a rock on the Oval dedicated to Ohio State veterans of the first World War. Credit: Dan Smyth | Lantern Reporter

A wreath lies on a boulder on the Oval dedicated to Ohio State veterans of the first World War. Credit: Dan Smyth | Lantern Reporter

A wreath is placed next to a rock, along with a few small American flags. Meanwhile a plaque reads “In honor of those sons of the Ohio State University who have answered the call to the colors in the year of 1917.”

On Thursday morning — the 241st birthday of the United States Marine Corps, as well as the eve of Veterans Day — OSU honored those who have served in the U.S. military.

Members from the Air Force, Army and Navy were present at OSU’s annual “rock ceremony,” a tradition that has taken place at the university since 1917. In addition to the laying of the wreath, a guest of honor spoke to the crowd gathered on the Oval.

Commander Matthew Bradshaw, assistant professor of naval sciences, made introductory remarks thanking everyone for their service.

“And of course all the midshipmen and cadets, we applaud you for your hard work and dedication,” Bradshaw said.

One person in particular Bradshaw was especially thankful for was retired marine Major Jeff Hullinger, an alumnus of OSU who was and the guest of honor.

Veterans gather for Ohio State's annual "rock ceremony," a moment held annually since 1917 to honor those who have served in the military. Credit: Dan Smyth | Lantern Reporter

Veterans gather for Ohio State’s annual “rock ceremony,” a gathering held annually since 1917 to honor those who have served in the military. Credit: Daniel Smyth | Lantern Reporter

After taking the podium, Hullinger proceeded to, “as all Marines like to do,” tell a story.

While serving in Iraq, Hullinger explained how his patrol crossed a bridge with “Go Army” written on it. An hour later, Hullinger and his patrol heard an explosion near the same bridge.

“We had a really bad day for us,” Hullinger said.

Hullinger’s squad was the first to respond to the scene, where an improvised explosive device was detonated, injuring those in the area. He recalled the injured Marines lying by the side of the road during in the middle of an ensuing gunfight.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about those Marines,” Hullinger said, referencing the three Marines as well as the Iraqi interpreter who were killed in the attack.

Hullinger said it was one of the darkest days during his deployment in Iraq.

“We also learned that basically that IED was meant for my patrol,” he said.

The motto of “gone but never forgotten,” or remembering the dead, was the main point to take away from the story right, Hullinger said, as all of those lost that day still live on with him.

Elsewhere on the Oval, and unrelated to the ceremony, “gone but never forgotten” served a different meaning as Jordan Feliciano, the director of the operations through the Arnold Air Society helped organize a care package and letter drop off for deployed Marines in Afghanistan, where students were contributing to the drive.

“(We’re gathering) a lot of nonperishable stuff, so like snack food, stuff that you wouldn’t be able to get in Afghanistan, like starbursts, skittles, just the little things that make an impact for morale” said Feliciano, a second-year in public affairs and a member of OSU’s Air Force ROTC.

Classes are cancelled Friday in honor of Veterans Day. A ceremony and parade are scheduled to take place downtown, with events kicking off at 10:30 a.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall, 90 W. Broad Street.

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